Now is a great time to look and listen for Tibicen cicadas in North America. Tibicen are the medium to large sized annual cicadas. Typically they are well camouflaged – with colors like black, white, green & brown.
During the day you can listen for them, of course, and spot them that way. Try Insect Singers for cicada songs. You can also look for their exuvia (skins), and if you’re lucky you can catch on on a low branch.
Last night I started looking around 10pm and found three Swamp Cicadas (T. tibicen tibicen) shedding their skins on trees around the yard. I also collected about 30 exuvia (skins). All in a quarter acre yard. Take a look at this video:
Last night I went on an exploration of Manchester, NJ looking for Tibicen auletes (Germar, 1834) with Elias Bonaros and his friend Annette.
T. auletes, are known as the Northern Dusk Singing Cicada. As their name suggests, T. auletes calls at dusk, around sunset. Their call is amazing – visit Insect Singers to hear their call.
Luckily I found a (deceased) female and an exuvia (nymph skin). Elias and Annette found many exuvia and a live nymph. We were able to watch the nymph undergo ecdysis (leave its exuvia, and expand its adult body).
Here are some images of the cicadas we found last night (click the first two images to get to larger versions):
Some (blurry) video:
Dan and Elias netting a T. auletes exuvia. Photo by Annette DeGiovine-Oliveira:
The Tibicen bermudiana Verrill (T. bermudianus if you want the genus and species names to agree) is a cicada that was endemic to Bermuda and is now extinct. Its closest relative is the Tibicen lyricen, which is found in the United States (and not extinct).
Here is a photo of a T. bermudiana from the collection found at the Staten Island Museum:
We are excited to announce the availability of a document by Allen F. Sanborn and Polly K. Phillips titled Biogeography of the Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) of North America, North of Mexico. This document features distribution maps for North American cicada species! This document is an excellent companion to The Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) of North America North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath (link to that book).
Abstract: We describe and illustrate the biogeography of the cicadas inhabiting continental North America, north of Mexico. Species distributions were determined through our collecting efforts as well as label data from more than 110 institutional collections. The status of subspecies is discussed with respect to their distributions. As we have shown over limited geographic areas, the distribution of individual species is related to the habitat in which they are found. We discuss the biogeography of the genera with respect to their phylogenetic relationships. California is the state with the greatest alpha diversity (89 species, 46.6% of taxa) and unique species (35 species, 18.3% of taxa). Texas, Arizona, Colorado and Utah are the states with the next greatest alpha diversity with Texas, Arizona and Utah being next for unique species diversity. Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island are the states with the least amount of cicada diversity. Diversity is greatest in states and areas where there is a diversity of plant communities and habitats within these communities. Mountainous terrain also coincides with increases in diversity. Several regions of the focus area require additional collection efforts to fill in the distributions of several species.
Keywords: cicada; distribution; Diceroprocta; Tibicen; Okanagana; Okanagodes; Cacama; Magicicada; Platypedia; Cicadetta
It seems that there is a dispute as to whether the genus Tibicen should actually be called Lyristes. A petition was made (back in the 1980s) to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, to change Tibicen to Lyristes. I learned this from the wonderful new book, The Cicadas (Hemiptera: Cicadoidea: Cicadidae) of North America North of Mexico by Allen F. Sanborn and Maxine S. Heath (order it). I checked the ICZN website, and the petition appears to fallen off their docket of open cases. I also noticed that on European and Japanese websites, they use Lyristes.
I personally hope the genus name doesn’t change for North American species — I would have to make a lot of changes on this website. Going through the name change from Tibicen chloromera to Tibicen chloromerus to Tibicen tibcen, was bad enough.
The root of the word Tibicen is flute player, and the root of the word Lyristes is lyre — both referring to musical instruments. (Frankly I think most Tibicen sound like power tools — I don’t know Latin for Black & Decker).
BTW, this is a Lyristes plebejus (from Spain):
And this is a Lyristes flammatus (from Japan):
And some day, this might be a Lyristes auletes (from North Carolina):